Bone growth is linked to expansion of nearby organs, as is the case for the cranial base and the brain. Here, we focused on development of the mouse clivus, a sloping surface of the basioccipital bone, to define mechanisms underlying morphological changes in bone in response to brain enlargement. Histological analysis indicated that both endocranial and ectocranial cortical bone layers in the basioccipital carry the osteoclast surface dorsally and the osteoblast surface ventrally. Finite element analysis of mechanical stress on the clivus revealed that compressive and tensile stresses appeared mainly on respective dorsal and ventral surfaces of the basioccipital bone. Osteoclastic bone resorption occurred primarily in the compression area, whereas areas of bone formation largely coincided with the tension area. These data collectively suggest that compressive and tensile stresses govern respective localization of osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Developmental analysis of the basioccipital bone revealed the clivus to be angled in early postnatal wild-type mice, whereas its slope was less prominent in Tnfsf11 −/− mice, which lack osteoclasts. We propose that osteoclast-osteoblast “trans-pairing” across cortical bone is primarily induced by mechanical stress from growing organs and regulates shape and size of bones that encase the brain.
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